UK’s Attempt to Use ‘Terrorism’ Laws to Suppress Journalism

Trevor Timm, “Will the US State Dept Condemn UK’s Attempt to Use ‘Terrorism’ Laws to Suppress Journalism?,” Freedom of the Press Foundation, 3 November 2013

In a shocking court filing this week, the UK government accused journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda of “terrorism” for allegedly transporting leaked (and heavily encrypted) NSA documents from documentarian Laura Poitras in Germany to Greenwald in Brazil, on a journalistic mission paid for by the Guardian newspaper.

In a statement that should send chills down the spine of every reporter, the government made the unbelievable claim that merely publishing information that has nothing to do with violence still “falls within the definition of terrorism.”

“Additionally the disclosure, or threat of disclosure, is designed to influence a government and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism…”


Think about the sheer breadth of that statement. Not only are several Guardian reporters and editors also guilty of engaging in “terrorism” under the UK government’s logic, but so are New York Times or Pro Publica journalists who have received the same news-worthy documents for publication. If publishing or threatening to publish information for the purpose “promoting a political or ideological cause” is “terrorism,” than the UK government can lock up every major newspaper editorial board that dares write any opinion that strays from the official government line.

No matter one’s opinion on the NSA, the entire public should be disturbed by this attack on journalism. In fact, this is exactly the type of attack on press freedom the US State Department regularly condemns in authoritarian countries, and we call on them to do the same in this case. …

Read the whole article here.